Preschool programming has been one of the few genres that U.S. companies have failed to dominate internationally. Many countries restrict the amount of preschool programs stations can import because they want to educate kids in their own language and customs.
Disney’s Rich Ross says programs that do make it abroad are usually visually stimulating, feature good music and don’t come from a typical North American point of view.
Of programs that are new or have yet to air in the U.S., a few prospects stand out as potential international successes, including Nickelodeon’s upcoming Dora The Explorer and PBS’s Zoboomafoo. Dora features a Latina American heroine and is set in a very non-American place (more like Costa Rica) that features volcanoes, animals and a tropical environment. It takes a page out of the Blue’s Clues book in that the show will invite interaction with the audience to help Dora solve problems. Zoboomafoo, which debuted in the U.S. in 1999, goes against the grain. It is the rare example of a live-action, host-driven program that has strong international potential because of the track record of its hosts, the Kratt brothers. Their earlier series, Kratt’s Creatures, sold in 34 territories. ‘Their style is very physical and visual, and I think that breaks down language barriers,’ says PBS’s Wilson. Additional appeal comes from the show’s international scope and the general appeal of animals. Both Dora and Zoboomafoo are expected to be available for acquisition later this year.